Based on the first novel of the Die Zwerge tetralogy [Eng. The Dwarves] by author Markus Heitz, the goal of the cooperative game Die Zwerge is to keep evil from flooding Girdlegard. During set-up, players choose one of the dwarves from the novel, each of which is equipped with a unique special ability and different stats for fighting, crafting, and movement.
Before each player's turn, the forces of evil usually break through one of the four big gates – which are guarded by different dwarven tribes – and further the spread of the Perished Land. On his turn a player spends two action points to use two of five actions. He can:
- Fight against the advancing enemies (orcs, trolls, and älfar [Ger. albae], i.e. dark elves).
- Travel to other locations.
- Lobby the dwarven council to give advantages to all players – and without the favor of the dwarven council, everyone suffers disadvantages.
- Solve a minor quest for rewards.
- Take on the current major quest, revealing the next major quest if successful. Completing these quests is the only way to win the game.
- For most of these actions, a player must succeed in a dice-driven challenge. If the players cannot control the flood of evil while simultaneously solving the major quests in time, they will lose.